This is rich: Gov. Brown looks to global warming fees to pay for high-speed rail

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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Gov. Brown looks to global warming fees to pay for high-speed rail

By Mike Rosenberg and Paul Rogers

Staff writers



Posted: 04/02/2012 12:18:15 PM PDT
Updated: 04/03/2012 07:48:09 AM PDT



With a lower price tag and speedier plan to start zipping bullet trains up and down California, Gov. Jerry Brown's ambitious new high-speed rail proposal is still wobbly on one vital ingredient: billions and billions of dollars.
The state still has no guarantee on where it will come up with about 80 percent of the funding needed for a project that high-speed rail leaders announced Monday will cost at least $68 billion. But bullet train backers are now touting a new wild card that could provide a major contribution courtesy of the state's big polluters.
Anywhere from $2 billion to $14 billion a year could be in play for high-speed rail, thanks to a new proposal to use money from a pollution auction established by the state's landmark global warming law.
The money -- expected to start flowing to the state in November, when it begins selling permits that allow industry to emit greenhouse gases -- could either be a brilliant savior for the cash-strapped rail project or a disappointing enigma that disappears under legal scrutiny and opposition from businesses.
At a news conference Monday in Fresno, rail leaders did little to play up the new funding possibility, nor did they return calls seeking more detail. But critics said it is likely to set off a massive legal showdown between business interests and the state.
"It's the winning-the-lottery scenario," said Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of the California Manufacturers and
Technology Association. "Counting on cap-and-trade revenues might not be the wise thing to do if it is so legally suspect that the money will never show up."The state's new 212-page business plan released Monday begins with the phrase "Better, faster, cheaper," a mantra supporters repeated throughout the day. It lowers the project cost from $98 billion, but is still double what voters were told when they approved $9 billion in bonds in 2008.
The cost is going down from the recent estimate because leaders will electrify the existing Caltrain line between San Francisco and San Jose, beef up commuter lines in Southern California and build new tracks connecting the two metro areas, instead of the prior strategy to construct an entirely new, 520-mile line from end to end.
"We need to do big things to maintain our place as one of the world's leading economies," said Dan Richard, chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority. "This plan is about more than just high-speed rail as a stand-alone system or a cool train, if you will. It's an overall approach to building tomorrow's transportation system."
Overall, the new plan was initially received as more appealing than past strategies. But there remain significant doubts from analysts and even supporters over whether the new strategy is financially feasible or politically viable. It concludes by asking the Legislature in the next two months to start building the project even with a $55 billion funding shortfall. The plan is banking on the federal government to provide $42 billion and private investors to contribute $13 billion in hypothetical funding -- or else risk losing existing federal grants and seeing the project fold altogether.
"There are still an awful lot of questions to be asked and answered and a lot of work to be done. I really don't see a decision by June 15 being practical," said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is leading oversight of the project in the Legislature.
A


new feature in Monday's plan is a "backstop" in case financing never materializes: a cap-and-trade program in which big polluters buy credits in electronic auctions to offset greenhouse gas emissions, with the revenue going to programs that reduce greenhouse gases. It remains unclear whether that money can be spent on high-speed rail.The funding is part of California's global-warming law known as AB 32, signed in 2006 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It requires the state to emit the same levels of greenhouse gases by 2020 as it did in 1990 -- a drop of about 15 percent when population growth is factored in.
Environmental groups said Monday that they don't oppose the idea of spending global warming auction proceeds on rail, since the project could reduce auto and airplane trips, cutting pollution. But they need to see whether the money would yield more benefits on other projects, such as solar power subsidies.
"We don't have enough information yet to put our support behind the proposal," said Alex Jackson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. "But assuming the greenhouse gas reduction benefits can be clearly documented, high-speed rail is a key feature of our push to lower carbon from transportation."
At issue is whether the global warming money is a "fee" or a "tax" that can be spent on the rail project, or whether 30 years of case law and ballot measures dating back to Proposition 13 forbid it. Critics said the Brown administration knows the issue is likely to be tied up in court for years and is simply trying to keep the project alive long enough to start construction.
"If this was a private sector project, responsible business managers would know we've long since passed the point where we are throwing good money after bad," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
The other half of the financing equation is cost, and the scaled-down version was called for by leaders, including Simitian. Die-hard supporters, though, don't see it as true high-speed rail.
"They fooled the voters," said Quentin Kopp, who chaired the bullet train board before retiring last year. "The voters didn't vote to borrow money for two commute train services, they voted money for a high-speed statewide system. It's dizzying to think about this scheme."
http://www.mercurynews.com/californ...ov-jerry-brown-unveils-scaled-back-high-speed
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#2
Are they still paying the state employees with IOUs?
 

Don the Radio Guy

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"Fees"

Fuck you, it's taxes. Anyone who voted for this asshole should be kicked in the cunt.
 

Stig

Wackbag's New Favorite Heel
Jul 26, 2005
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#5
I wish CA would fall into the Pacific.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#6
It's hard to comprehend such a beautiful state could be filled with so many fucking assholes.
 

bb1mobile

wackbag's special mod
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Jul 10, 2007
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#7
Typical. Come up with a multibillion dollar
plan and no guarantee of funding.
 

Motor Head

HIGHWAY TRASH REMOVAL
Jan 23, 2006
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#8
It's hard to comprehend such a beautiful state could be filled with so many fucking assholes.
I was thinking the same thing not too long ago. How can a state where you can surf in the morning, ski in the afternoon and then party in the some of the best clubs in America all in the same day, be filled with shitbags.

I know a big part of the problem is an element of interlopers that are voting in politicians to insure more free shit for everybody!! I thought the Governator would really turn that state around. He just couldn't cut social programs because it was political suicide. Well look at you now fuckos.
 

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
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#9
Can't wait to watch all those "polluters" move to Texas, and California lose more revenue than it gains from this.

And then, if there was a God, he'd change the wind patterns so that it only blows from the East.
"Fees"

Fuck you, it's taxes. Anyone who voted for this asshole should be kicked in the cunt.
Didn't Mister Universe sign that global warming law the article mentions?
 

Party Rooster

Unleash The Beast
Apr 27, 2005
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#10
You start taxing "polluters" and they'll just leave the state like everyone else has. And if this was such a great idea let private companies build it.
 

Norm Stansfield

私は亀が好きだ。
Mar 17, 2009
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#11
You start taxing "polluters" and they'll just leave the state like everyone else has. And if this was such a great idea let private companies build it.
That would work, but only if the government cut funding to all mass transit systems. Otherwise, you're asking a private company to try and compete with a government transit system. It's like playing sports against the referee. You're not going to win.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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#15
This thing is such a mess and they should really abandon the idea. They passed a $50 billion bond to build this thing, then later came out and said it's actually going to cost $100 billion... before construction even started. Also, instead of starting the rail in a major metropolitan area, they're going to start it in the central valley from Bakersfield to some shitty ghost town... so WHEN the idea is finally abandoned, we may have a 10 mile HSR that 44 people can use to commute on. At least if they started it in one of the cities it could be used locally if (when) the entire project is abandoned.
 

unklewilly

Registered User
Nov 13, 2006
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#16
thank god Ill be able to go from Fresno to Bakersfield in a timely efficient manner....what a waste of fucking money. I live in Fresno and I want to go to LA, or Vegas not fucking Bakersfield. Its just another wasteland like Fresno is.
 

whiskeyguy

PR representative for Drunk Whiskeyguy.
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Jan 12, 2010
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#17
thank god Ill be able to go from Fresno to Bakersfield in a timely efficient manner....what a waste of fucking money. I live in Fresno and I want to go to LA, or Vegas not fucking Bakersfield. Its just another wasteland like Fresno is.
I doubt the rail will even get to Fresno. The first leg is going to be built between Bakersfield and some abandoned mining town. Because building the first leg between San Diego and LA, or San Francisco and Sacramento makes no sense. Why have something that could be used if the plans fall through?

/Sarcasm.

BTW, condolences for living in Fresno. I have a brother at Fresno State and family in Visalia and Reedley, and Fresno might be the last California city I'd want to live in (behind maybe Modesto and Oakland).
 

jnoble

Lingering longer for a longering linger
Dec 4, 2005
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#18
Typical. Come up with a multibillion dollar
plan and no guarantee of funding.
And you can be sure the final cost will be at least 3 times the original estimate
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#19
thank god Ill be able to go from Fresno to Bakersfield in a timely efficient manner....what a waste of fucking money. I live in Fresno and I want to go to LA, or Vegas not fucking Bakersfield. Its just another wasteland like Fresno is.
Huh, the family I have in California live in Bakersfield and Fresno, weird.
 

MayrMeninoCrash

Liberal Psycopath
Dec 9, 2004
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#20
BTW, condolences for living in Fresno. I have a brother at Fresno State and family in Visalia and Reedley, and Fresno might be the last California city I'd want to live in (behind maybe Modesto and Oakland).
I'd take Modesto over Stockton any day of the week. Actually for pure shit-hole-ness in California, might I submit Barstow?

And for as much as I might think the opportunities offered by CAHSR would be great for me careerwise, I've lost all faith that we will ever see anything practical come of it.

On the other hand, this shows promise.